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The Importance of Eye Exams For Children

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Young girl undergoing eye exam by her optometrist

Your optometrist does more than test your vision in an eye exam; they can identify several eye conditions and diseases. Children need regular eye exams as they develop and grow into adulthood.  

How important are eye exams for children? Continue reading to learn more about the importance of children’s eye exams, including what happens during examinations and how often your child should have one. 

What Happens During an Eye Exam? 

Most people know what an eye exam is, but what happens during your child’s appointment? Depending on your child’s age, their examination may differ slightly. As children grow, their eyes develop with them.

There are many visual milestones your child will reach as they age. The tests your optometrist performs will depend on how far along your child’s development is. Children under a year old typically need an eye health evaluation to see their blinking and pupil response and overall eye health. 

As a child grows, tests become more in-depth. Several common vision problems can develop between ages 2 to 5, known as preschool vision. After your child begins to read, write, and go to school, they likely require a comprehensive eye exam to assess their vision and eye health. 

Your child’s eye exam will likely include: 

Medical History 

Your optometrist must review your child’s medical history, including birth, health conditions, and developmental milestones. You will likely discuss how your child is doing in school or other activities and if they’re struggling with their vision. 

Visual Acuity 

Visual acuity evaluates how well your child sees through each eye. If your child is old enough to understand, they’ll use a reading chart to determine their visual acuity. 20/20 vision is known as standard. 

Refraction 

At age 3, children need a refraction test to determine if they need corrective lenses. This test can diagnose several conditions, such as: 

Your child will look through a series of different lenses and choose the ones providing the clearest image. 

Eye Coordination

Eye coordination includes your child’s eye focusing, teaming, and movement. Children’s eyes must move, change focus, and work together to create a clear image. 

Your optometrist will assess how well your child’s eyes focus, move and work together. This assessment includes testing their accommodation, ocular motility (the movement and alignment of the eyes), and binocular vision.

Eye Health Evaluation 

A variety of technologies can help your optometrist examine your child’s eye health. They will look at all of the structures of the eye and surrounding tissue. Your eye doctor will measure your child’s eye pressure and identify any potential problems. 

Some common tests include: 

Your optometrist will perform more tests if necessary. A comprehensive eye exam looks at all aspects of your child’s vision and eye health. Why is this examination important for children?  

Young boy covering up right eye with eye exam chart in the background

The Importance of Children’s Eye Exams

Children’s eyes are constantly growing and developing as they age. With this development, there are risks of eye conditions and visual problems occurring. Regularly scheduled eye exams can help protect your child’s ocular health. 

There are two main reasons eye exams are important: 

Clear Vision is Crucial for Development 

Approximately 80% of learning is visual for children. In school, your child needs to read, write, play, and interact with others. Vision is vital for all of these tasks. 

As your child grows, they’ll learn many visual skills needed for everyday tasks. An undiagnosed refractive error or eye condition can affect a child’s school performance, normal development, social interactions, and self-esteem

Early Detection Can Protect Your Child’s Vision 

An estimated 20% of preschool children have a vision problem, and 25% of school-age children need corrective lenses. Vision problems can occur at any age, but many develop in childhood. If a child has a vision problem, it can affect their ocular health. 

Eye and vision problems worsen over time, so early diagnosis is critical to protect your child’s eye health and vision. Some conditions, such as myopia, can lead to health risks in adulthood. Regular eye exams allow your optometrist to identify any potential eye diseases and create a treatment plan if they notice any problems. 

Everyone needs regular eye exams, especially children. As your child grows older, when should you be taking them for an examination? 

When Should Your Child Have an Eye Exam? 

Eye exams are important for your child’s ocular health. The tests your optometrist performs can help identify visual problems and changes. Children have several visual milestones as they develop, so when should your child have an eye exam? 

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, children should receive an eye examination at: 

  • 6 to 12 months 
  • 12 to 36 months 
  • 3 to 5 years 
  • Annually after 5 years 

While you should follow this schedule, visit your optometrist if your child has any problems with their eyes or vision. The earlier they diagnose an issue, the sooner your child can receive treatment. 

Protect Your Child’s Vision 

Eye exams are vital for your child’s eye health and vision. With regularly scheduled appointments, your optometrist can identify any visual problems or changes. Book an appointment if your child needs a comprehensive eye exam or shows signs of any vision-related issues. 

Written by Dr. Madison Baldwin

As a Kansas native (born and raised in Kingman), I am thrilled to be able to practice what I love so close to home. I can’t imagine anything better than to be caring for my community and building strong ties to new friends and colleagues.

When I’m not in the office caring for my patients, I enjoy making memories with my husband, Aaron, and our dog-child, Dexter! You’ll often find me playing piano, hosting our friends and family in our home, or out for a run. Aaron and I enjoy traveling to warm places and recently became open-water scuba diver certified!

I chose eye care as my career because I’ve always wanted to help people. The quality of care I provide is incredibly important to me. In an age where doctors spend just a few minutes with their patients, I am proud to give my patients the time and diligence they deserve. More than to simply “see” you, I want to learn more about you and how I can best serve your needs. Our relationship matters.

I invite you to make an appointment for yourself or your children, whether you have an eye concern or are simply seeking an updated corrective lens prescription. I will always do my best to provide you the best eye care available anywhere in Wichita.

Professional Associations & Memberships

  • Member, Kansas Optometric Association (KOA)
  • Member, American Optometric Association (AOA)
  • Member, Business Networking International (BNI)

Education

  • Bachelor of Science (chemistry) – Bethel College, 2007
  • Doctor of Optometry – Northeastern State University, Oklahoma College of Optometry, 2011
    • Graduated Magna Cum Laude
    • Member of the Beta Sigma Kappa honor society
    • Presented with “Outstanding Clinician in Ocular Disease” award.
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